Andrew Miller transitioned to a full-time relief role in 2012, but it was his 2014 season that really put him on the map.
That year, Miller put up a 2.02 ERA and 1.51 FIP over 62.1 innings for the Red Sox and Orioles. His K/9 was just under 15.
That season was the start of a four-year stretch of dominance from Miller, one in which he averaged roughly 65 innings a season. His 41.8% strikeout rate was tied for the highest in baseball over that time. His highest season ERA was 2.04.
When tallying it up, Miller threw 261 innings over 260 appearances in those four years, accruing 9.6 fWAR. That’s more value than Mike Leake provided in 769 innings as a starter (9.5 fWAR).
Miller racked up some hardware over that span, a two-time All-Star (2016, 2017), Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year in 2015 and ALCS MVP in 2016. One could argue his postseason fireman role brought the current talks on utilization of the bullpen to the forefront.
Miller’s elite four years make his 2018 all the more intriguing.
Issues with his left hamstring, right knee and left shoulder sent the southpaw to the IL three times, including a 60-day trip in the middle of the season.
Pitching through injury and inconsistency was reflected in his final line, notching just 34 innings and a 4.24 ERA. Miller’s 3.51 FIP was a little easier on his performance, but it was still a far cry from the sub-2.00 numbers he posted in those categories just a year earlier.
His command was clearly shakier as well, with his K-BB% falling from 30.3% in 2017 to 18.8% last year.
The right knee injury was one that also plagued Miller down the stretch in 2017, finding himself on the 10-day IL twice after mid-August.
It isn’t as clear as chalking up the off year to injury alone. Miller will play most of 2019 at age 34, giving reason to believe injury could’ve just exacerbated a natural decline.
Miller doesn’t seem to think so. In an interview with MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch, he acknowledged last year’s poorer performance and talked about his eagerness to get back to his standards.
In that same piece, John Mozeliak stressed that the organization did its due diligence researching Miller’s medical history and feels confident he can return to form.
What do you think?
Were injuries to blame for Miller’s 2018, with a comeback season in the wings? Was last year a kickstarted decline that will see him fall further? Or will he sit somewhere in the middle? Let us know in the form below, and keep your eyes peeled as the rest of the roster is discussed leading up to the season.